When compromise is a recipe for disaster
By JOE LEVINE
Everybody has to compromise sometime. Most of us, most of the time. But sometimes you can’t, because the stakes are too high. Times like when your family’s health or property are threatened, you can’t compromise. Don’t be mistaken; this is one of those times. We’ve been told by friends out West that if the gasmen come, it will never be the same.
The Upper Delaware River has some of the purest and most protected water in the country. Known as a “National Treasure and a Wild and Scenic River,” the Delaware is rare. I’ve spent every summer of my youth on the river. A dozen years ago, we built a house here, and now our children can say the same. It is still as astoundingly beautiful and sublime today as it was 45 years ago when I started coming up.
Now the river is at a turning point. Cheney’s Energy Task Force has given the energy industry exemptions from environmental regulations and legalized Halliburton technology. The gas industry has come to drill, and money lubricates the drilling. It’s not just money; it’s 250 toxic chemicals that are injected into the ground infecting the water. There’s too much science on the subject to deny it.
But the assault isn’t limited to the water. Evidence from drilling sites around the country proves that pollution of the air will be just as severe. It will force New York City (125 miles away) to be out of compliance with the Clean Air Act.
I saw previews of the Josh Fox documentary filmed in Texas, Colorado and Wyoming, “Rage against Nature.” It depicts an assault on the natural environment where we will be taking care of friends or relatives who have a tumor, cancer, organ disease or some other weird medical condition. The landscape is battered, industrial. Lives changed forever.
Based upon the models from out West and our state regulations, they will drill more than 25,000 wells in the Upper Delaware Watershed. They will build roads and clear 150,000 acres of our forests throughout the Poconos and Catskills. “It can’t happen here,” you say, “it’s different from out west.” Look at the Alleghany National Forest if you want to see exactly what it will look like here in less than two years if we don’t stop them now. Visit picasaweb.google.com/AlleghenyDefenseProject.
Money is the only reason for signing a lease. Landowners were lied to. The money looked clean. They were told that the drilling was clean, “just sand and water.” You won’t hear them say that anymore. Damascus Citizens made sure of that.
Some say that it’s inevitable; it’s going to happen. “We’ll negotiate the best deal ever, and work with industry to get it right.” This is a recipe for disaster. Compromise and you’re moving. There is proof it will become an industrial zone and you won’t want to live here. No drilling in the watershed—period.
Our greatest, most threatened asset is also our greatest, most threatening weapon. We are special because we own the Delaware River, and it has “Special Protection Regulations.” If it didn’t, we wouldn’t stand a chance, and we would get mowed down like our friends who were less prepared.
Fight back or get ready to move. Fight back by supporting a total ban on drilling in the watershed. New York City has banned drilling in their watershed for good reason.
Damascus Citizens for Sustainability is working this from every angle, including the New York and Pennsylvania legislatures. We’re working with the Delaware Riverkeepers, the Catskill Mountainkeepers, Sierra Club, NRDC and world-renowned scientist and gas-drilling expert Dr. Theo Colborn.
We are Damascus Citizens, and we are armed with the truth. They’re not drilling in the Delaware Watershed because we don’t want to give it up.
(Joe Levine is an architect in New York City and a member of the Damascus Citizens for Sustainability. His firm Bone/Levine Architects is involved with building restoration and land conservation projects in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Maryland and Colorado, and has won numerous architectural design awards.)